TOURISM: Sector Not Seeing Benefits Yet
Recent Western Cape Business News
While international awareness of Cape Town as a top travel destination in the world is certainly growing, it seems that the Cape Town tourism sector is not realising any bottom line benefits yet.
But recent international accolades such as last week’s announcement by the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor, as well as Table Mountain currently being considered as a contender for the New7Wonders of Nature, should certainly assist in the recovery of the Cape Town tourism industry.
So says Martin Jansen van Vuuren, Strategic Solutions director at Grant Thornton.
“Data and research from Cape Town Tourism has highlighted that the long Easter break which combined additional public holidays in April, just didn’t bring expected increased tourists to the Western Cape,” says Jansen van Vuuren. “While some places noted reasonable numbers of visitors during the holiday break, many recorded lower than expected sales.”
According to Cape Town Tourism, this year saw the largest number of entries in the history of the Two Oceans Marathon, with a record field of close to 23,000 runners participating. Many of the marathon runners extended their stay in Cape Town by a number of days, making full use of the unusual culmination of public holidays. But Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, said in a media announcement last week that the region did not experience the predicted boom in inbound or domestic tourism over the last ten days.
However, Jansen van Vuuren believes the medium to long term future of Cape Town’s tourism industry is still positive. “The international awareness of Cape Town has never been better – the FIFA World Cup in 2010 improved worldwide knowledge of South Africa as a whole and just recently Cape Town has benefited even more with two global accolades and rankings awarding the city with outstanding travel tributes.”
The world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor, announced last week that Cape Town has been voted by millions of travellers around the world, as the number one holiday destination on earth for 2011. In its third year of the awards, TripAdvisor has honored 337 outstanding destinations across the globe, with Cape Town coming out tops.
“Cape Town’s number one ranking in the TripAdvisor survey is a huge achievement,” says Jansen van Vuuren. “TripAdvisor is extremely well known worldwide and this ranking is to be highly respected – especially considering Cape Town topped the rankings against some serious international contenders like Barcelona, Rome and New York City.”
In addition, Table Mountain has been voted one of the final 28 sites for the New7Wonders of Nature campaign, with the final seven to be named on November 11, 2011. A detailed research report which was commissioned by the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company and conducted by Grant Thornton, found that tourism to Table Mountain, and thus Cape Town, would increase by about 20% if Table Mountain makes it into the final seven. The report has projected a R1.4-billion annual tourism bonanza for the whole South Africa if Table Mountain is named one of the New7Wonders of Nature and the expenditure would support around 11 000 employment opportunities in South Africa.
“The awareness that accolades such as these bring to The Mother City will certainly result in an increase in international visitors to our shores,” continues Jansen van Vuuren.
Jansen van Vuuren believes that the current slump in tourism numbers to Cape Town is because of a variety of factors. “The world is taking longer than expected to recover from the global recession and international travel is being curtailed right now. Also, South Africans have been hit with three petrol price increases in the last two months which directly affects domestic tourists’ ability to travel.”
Cape Town Tourism has predicted that tourists that did come to Cape Town for the Easter break probably stayed with family and friends or in timeshare/self-catering and thus the visitors were not felt directly by the formal hotel sector.
Cape Town has also experienced a spate of new hotels that opened in the lead up to the Soccer World Cup which now has resulted in an oversupply of rooms in some areas. “This oversupply,” says Jansen van Vuuren, “Coupled with low growth in guest demand due to the global economic recession has resulted in South African hotel occupancy being kept in check.”
Any positive branding and publicity on a global scale will certainly help to boost awareness of Cape Town, believes Jansen van Vuuren.
While Cape Town may not be realising its full potential as a tourist destination right now, Jansen van Vuuren predicts that the long term future of Cape Town will see the Mother City and its tourism industry reaping the rewards worthy of a top international and domestic tourist city.
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